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FACTCHECK: Does Imo State owe over N100 bn? #YES

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[FILE PHOTO] Imo state

CLAIM: Imo State Governor, Emeka Ihedioha recently said the state has an unsustainable debt of over N100bn as a result of “mindless misappropriation” perpetuated by Rochas Okorocha, the former governor
CONCLUSION: TRUE, DMO data shows that Imo State had a total debt of N106.11bn as at December 31, 2018

FULL TEXT:
Imo State Governor, Emeka Ihedioha, during a stakeholders’ meeting in Owerri claimed that the state is saddled with unsustainable debt of over N100bn incurred without anything to show for what the monies were used.

“I must inform you in this regard that so far, we have received over N30bn worth of garnishee orders arising from several ill-conceived and fraudulent contractual agreements deliberately consummated by the past administration to destroy the future of the state and its teeming population by fettering the state in a humongous debt trap.”

The former governor, Rochas Okorocha, through his Special Adviser on Media, Sam Onwuemeodo, responded challenging Ihedioha to publish details of his claim.

He said: “The governor should not be dishing out figures as if governance has become a child’s play. The disturbing aspect of the whole thing is that when you challenge them to show proof they run away.”

VERIFICATION OF THE CLAIM:
A check on Debt Management Office’s (DMO) website, the official institution coordinating the management of Nigeria’s debt, revealed that as at December 2018, Imo State domestic debt was N97.85bn while its external debt was $59.51m (N18.266bn).

[The naira value of Imo state external debt was arrived at after multiplying the foreign debt by N307, the official exchange rate of a dollar to naira as at December 31, 2018].

If the domestic debt of N97.85bn is added to the naira value of the external debt, N18.266bn, then, Imo State’s debt as at the time Okorocha left office would be N106.11bn.

This means the claim by Ihedioha that the state debt is over N100bn is true.
What’s More?

We contacted the Special Adviser to Okorocha to provide the state’s debt profile when his principal left office, especially since he disagreed with Ihedioha’s claim, and statistics on DMO’s website showed that the state’s debt profile as at the time Okorocha left office was over N100bn.

Onwuemeodo said the interpretation of Ihedioha’s statement was that Okorocha incurred over N100bn debt while in office. So we checked that too!

Imo State’s Debt Increased by N75.26bn Under Okorocha’s Tenure
A further check on DMO’s website revealed that as at December 2011, Imo state had an external debt of $50,277m and N25.41bn domestic debt. This implied that the external debt grew by $9.23 (N2.833m) while domestic debt grew by N72.43bn during Okorocha’s tenure. This means the state’s debt grew with about N75.26bn under Okorocha from DMO’s record.

CONCLUSION: Data from DMO shows that Imo State had a total debt of N106.11bn as at December 31, 2018, which has not been repaid at present and that the state’s debt grew with about N75.26bn under Okorocha’s leadership.


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